Unpaid Clergy

In the Mormon Church, it’s something of a pride point that none of the clergy is paid. We’re not talking the super-high-ups of the President of the Church, his counsellors, or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We’re just talking on a ward and stake level. The Bishop, the Stake President, all the way down to those in charge of the Nursery aren’t paid.

These are all “callings” and I can’t ever think of a time that anyone turned one down. It just isn’t done. Why not? Because they teach you from an early age that callings are from God, and even though you’re being asked by the Bishop or Relief Society President to serve as whatever, it’s really coming from God, and He knows what calling you need in order to grow spiritually.

All these callings you’re expected to do on your own time, and often you have to put your own money into it. I was a Cub Scout leader for a little over a year (my last calling in the church before I moved), and I would routinely spend money for things for the boys to do in order to get the badges needed so they could get their Arrow of Light. Now it wasn’t much, and I was in a comfortable place financially so it wasn’t a burden, but I wonder now why we’re expected to do this when the Church takes in such great amounts of money from tithes.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the volunteer nature of the Church. They stress the importance of families, but then don’t compensate you for spending so much time away from them in callings that it’s unheard of anyone turning down when they’re called. But as I said, it’s a boasting point the Church has when they talk to people. I guess they think that it then eliminates any sort of conflict of interest with the tithes and fast offerings.

I think it must also give them a sense of spiritual pride (an oxymoron if I ever heard one). “Oh, look at me. I’m so humble and righteous that I spend X-number of hours a week on my Church calling, without pay, on top of my full-time job. Aren’t I awesome?”

In my opinion, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to have unpaid clergy if it wasn’t such a huge pressure to accept the calling no matter what. If you’re spending your own time and money for the Church, you shouldn’t be looked down on for saying “no.” Until such a time happens, I don’t think they should be so proud about no one being paid.


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